It’s Official

Yesterday we gave our landlords notice so it looks like our start date is official! We are going to be heading to Florida on September 10th or 11th.  The departure date depends on how fast we pack the truck. I think a Monday will be the better travel day, so it will probably be the 11th.

We are going to Acadia National Park with friends for Labor Day weekend and held Blackwoods Campground again. We are staying 5 nights, so that gives us 4 full days to pack all of the things we are taking when we get back. Right now, that is not much. We plan on having about 10 boxes, a few bags of clothing, tools, camp gear and a few odds and ends. A lot of things we need for the RV we will get while we are stationary in Florida.  We need a few things like a surge protector, a water pressure monitor, a few Corelle dishes and a generator.

Next week we are looking at several RV dealers in Florida. I am excited to see the floor plans and RVs we like in person. We will look at more up north as the weather gets nicer too. Some of the local dealers are having open houses with give-a-ways. I want to win a national park annual pass one of them is giving away!

We continue to get rid of furniture and clothing. Last week we sold our bureau, desk, big chair, shelving and coffee table. We are down to the bed, couch and dining table. I did get a few collapsible pet bowls for the cats. I figured they would be good on the trip down to Florida. They have been really calm with all of the packing and furniture moving. I think they know they are going on an adventure soon. This place has been way too boring for all of us.

   

We also cleared out some more things from Craig’s parents storage area. They are holding a few boxes with pictures and scrapbooks for us. I am bringing some framed prints to friends in NJ and FL-hopefully they all fit. We did have a free coupon to make a softcover scrapbook/memory book online so we used it for a small one we can bring with us. We might get a small digital photo frame too. We can always show people pictures on the TV or our phones. It is so nice to not have a ton of huge photo albums sitting around. I love pictures, but we only looked at the hard copies once in a while.

       

I will post pictures of the RVs we like after we get back from Florida. 

 

Top 10 National Park Hikes


This is a list of my favorite national park hikes we have done. We have only visited 18 parks out of 59 so far, so I am sure these may change over time. Thanks to Adventures of a Day Hiker for the inspiration. For now here they are!

10. Bright Angel Trail-Grand Canyon National Park

I am sure the Bright Angel Trail will move higher up on my list when we finally get to stay at Phantom Ranch on the floor of the Grand Canyon. We only hiked part of the Bright Angel while we were at the Grand Canyon because we had limited time and a lot to see. Many hikers do a day hike to one of the rest houses or Indian Garden since this can be a tough one to climb back up from. We visited in October and it was still 80 when the sun was out.  The summer can be deadly. Listen to all the warnings and remember you have to go back up! This website and book are great for hikers and visitors. We also loved the South Kaibab Trail, but only got to see a little of it.

9.  The Zion Narrows-Zion National Park

The Narrows is more of a wade through the North Fork of the Zion River than a hike with elevation, but it can be hard on your legs and balance. Most day hikers do the bottom up day hike. You can also camp and get a permit to do the top down to see more of the scenery and canyon. You can rent water shoes, hiking sticks and even waders from shops at the entrance to Zion national Park if the water is cold. The shoes really help with the rocky bottom and give support to your ankles so you do not turn them. The hike is beautiful and unique. There are usually lots of people having fun towards the beginning, but it gets quiet the further you go. The Narrows can be closed from March-May, so check before you plan to go. 

8. Yellowstone Picnic Area Trail-Yellowstone National Park

There are a lot of amazing hikes in Yellowstone National Park, but we have only done a few of them so far. I hope we get to do many more next summer since we hope to work seasonally in Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park! People raved about the Picnic Area hike in Lamar Valley near Roosevelt so we gave it a try. We only saw two or three other hikers the whole time, so I would definitely bring bear spray. It is an easy hike once you make the first initial climb from the parking lot/picnic area. There are lots of sheer drop offs so watch the kids. The views are beautiful and sweeping. We also love Trout Lake, Mystic Falls, Observation Point and the whole Upper Geyser Basin to Biscuit Basin for easy hikes in Yellowstone.  

7. Uncle Tom’s Trail-Yellowstone National Park

While short, Uncle Tom’s Trail packs a punch. It is steep going back up, and many people rush and forget water. Remember, you are already at a high elevation. The views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on this metal staircase trail are great. You are right next to the Lower Falls. Try to get the rainbow in your pictures. Take your time and enjoy!

6. The Queens Garden Trail-Bryce Canyon National Park

I really felt like I was walking around in a fairy tale when we hiked the Queens Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon. You feel so tiny next to the hoodoos when you actually start walking around next to them. The floor of Bryce Canyon is lush and peaceful. Wall Street is amazing to hike through. We only stayed a night in Bryce Canyon and I can not wait to go back.

5. The Precipice Trail and The Beehive Trail-Acadia National Park

I lumped the Beehive and the Precipice Trails together even though the Beehive is shorter. I loved them both and both have amazing views. The Beehive is easier since it is about half the length of the Precipice. The Precipice is really more of a climbing/bouldering course than a hike. I wore biking/climbing gloves on the Precipice and they really helped with the iron rungs. Some parts were changeling for a short person like me, but several brave kids were doing the hikes. Not for those with a fear of heights! 

4. The Mist Trail-Yosemite National Park

I love Yosemite National Park so much. The valley is amazing. We can not wait to go back and do lots of hiking and exploring. I am hoping we can work a summer/fall season there in 2019. The Mist Trail hike was one of the highlights when we visited in 2015. Craig was wearing sneakers and it was very wet, so we did not get to Nevada Falls. My hiking boots did a great job. I would love to hike to Half Dome while we are working there, but it does scare me a bit! 

3. The Highline Trail-Glacier National  Park

Glacier National Park is a hikers dream. The Highline Trail is a great hike from the Logan Pass area. You must get there early to find a parking spot, or take a shuttle from where you are staying. There are sheer drop offs, but the hike itself is a pretty steady elevation change. We saw waterfalls, mountains, mountain goats and breathtaking views. One of my favorite national park hikes so far.

2. Angels Landing-Zion National Park

I would rank Angels Landing #1 except it was SO CROWDED when we went in October 2015. The temperature was perfect-in the 80’s. You will probably want to get on the West Rim Trail to Angels Landing early so it is still in the shade. The switchbacks are killer. It is even a great hike if you stop at Scout Lookout. The views are incredible. If you are brave try the chain portion. It is short, but if it is crowded be prepared to wait. You may want to check on when the sun will be hitting the canyon for the best light and pictures.

1. Grinnell Glacier-Glacier National Park

Grinnell Glacier is my number one national park hike we have done so far. It is amazing to see the effects of climate change and how the glaciers have shrunk. It was also so nice to hike with a ranger and group of national park fans.The whole hike has stunning views. I can not wait to do this hike again. We hope to work a summer season in Glacier. Maybe in 2020!

Thanks for reading and happy hiking! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more pictures.

 

Shop The North Face at Moosejaw.com

The Award Winning LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Treasured Lands


We just got this beautiful book from the library and have been looking through it. If you love our national parks you should try to find it! 



The title is Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks. It is hardcover and quite heavy. There are 456 pages of amazing photos. QT Luong worked on Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan’s documentary The National Parks America’s Best Idea. 




I love this part of the description: “In an odyssey that spanned more than 20 years and 300 visits, Luong focused his lenses on iconic landscapes and rarely seen remote views, presenting his journey in this sumptuous array of more than 500 breathtaking images.

Accompanying the collection of scenic masterpieces is a guide that includes maps of each park, as well as extended captions that detail where and how the photographs were made. Designed to inspire visitors to connect with the parks and invite photographers to re-create these landscapes, the guide also provides anecdotal observations that give context to the pictures and convey the sheer scope of Luong’s extraordinary odyssey.”

Quick Update 


2016 was an amazing year! Craig and I got to visit 4 new national parks (Glacier, Everglades, Biscayne and Dry Tortugas) and revisit 2 of our favorites (Grand Teton and Yellowstone.) We also had a great camping weekend with friends in Acadia National Park and hiked a must do-the Precipice Trail.


Our plans for full time RVing are a bit up in the air now with probable changes coming to the ACA. We will keep our eye on what happens and continue to save for an RV (hopefully an Airstream) and truck. We want to have a nice cushion to buy some land soon too. 


We had a wonderful time in Florida in October and are going back in January to see friends and family. We have no other plans right now for 2017. Our Alaska trip is being put off until we have more money saved. We will see what the new year brings! We know we want to see the Pacific Northwest soon. We also want to hike more of Yosemite. We hope you all have an awesome 2017! 

The Precipice Trail-Acadia National Park


We had a great long weekend in Acadia National Park. One of the highlights was The Precipice Trail to the top of Champlain Mountain. The Precipice is an iron rung and ladder route up the steep cliffs along the east face.


Last year, we were not able to hike the Precipice  because the parking lot was packed. We did the Beehive instead. The Precipice is twice as long as the Beehive and harder. This year we took the park shuttle from Blackwoods Campground where we were staying with friends. It worked out great.


There is an 850 foot elevation gain up the trail and it takes about 1 and 1/2 hours if you go at a safe pace. Wear good hiking shoes and bring water. This hike/climb would be hard to do if you are afraid of heights! There are several exposed areas and narrow ledges. Sometimes you will have to wait on a ledge for others to climb. 

There are a few different trails you can take back down the other sides of Champlain Mountain.

I thought the Precipice Trail was amazing and challenging. I am glad we hiked when it was a cool 70 degree day out. It was definitely more like climbing than hiking. Have fun and be safe if you do The Precipice. Remember the trail is usually closed from March-August for Peregrine Falcon nesting.

Two New Books

I am reading two new books that I thought you all might enjoy. Here is the description for The Hour of Land:

“America’s national parks are breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadily disappearing, which is why more than 300 million people visit the parks each year. Now Terry Tempest Williams, the author of the environmental classic Refuge and the beloved memoir When Women Were Birds, returns with The Hour of Land, a literary celebration of our national parks, an exploration of what they mean to us and what we mean to them.

From the Grand Tetons in Wyoming to Acadia in Maine to Big Bend in Texas and more, Williams creates a series of lyrical portraits that illuminate the unique grandeur of each place while delving into what it means to shape a landscape with its own evolutionary history into something of our own making. Part memoir, part natural history, and part social critique, The Hour of Land is a meditation and a manifesto on why wild lands matter to the soul of America.”

Under the Stars is both funny and interesting so far. It is a history of camping. Here is the book description:

“The definitive book on camping in America. . . . A passionate, witty, and deeply engaging examination of why humans venture into the wild.”―Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

From the Sierras to the Adirondacks and the Everglades, Dan White travels the nation to experience firsthand―and sometimes face first―how the American wilderness transformed from the devil’s playground into a source of adventure, relaxation, and renewal.

Whether he’s camping nude in cougar country, being attacked by wildlife while “glamping,” or crashing a girls-only adventure for urban teens, Dan White seeks to animate the evolution of outdoor recreation. In the process, he demonstrates how the likes of Emerson, Thoreau, Roosevelt, and Muir―along with visionaries such as Adirondack Murray, Horace Kephart, and Juliette Gordon Low―helped blaze a trail from Transcendentalism to Leave No Trace.

Wide-ranging in research, enthusiasm, and geography, Under the Stars reveals a vast population of nature seekers, a country still in love with its wild places.”

Check them out of the library like I did or look for them at the book store or on Amazon!

Death in Yellowstone (and Other National Parks)

The past few weeks several very sad but avoidable accidents have happened at Yellowstone National Park. In May, a lady taking a picture of an Eagle stepped into the road and got hit by a car. On Tuesday, a pair of siblings from Oregon walked 225 yards off the boardwalks in Norris Geyser Basin and one slipped and fell into a hot spring. The water temperatures in Norris are the hottest in the park and range from 199 to 449 degrees. The day before, a 13 year old was being carried by his father as they walked off the designated trail in the Upper Geyser Basin. They slipped and got burned in a hot spring. Many signs are posted at the geyser basins warning visitors to stay on the boardwalks and marked paths. Information packets in different languages are also handed out when you enter the parks.

Rangers and Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk have said that park visitation is already up 60% this year. It is the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service and with cheaper gas, social media interest and unrest overseas, people want to travel to the parks. 

There have been a lot of “crazy tourist” news stories already coming from the parks. I am sure you read or heard about the two tourists putting a Bison calf in their car to save it because they thought it was cold. Or High On Life, a group of Canadian tourists with a clothing line that blatantly ignored several National Park rules and then posted the pictures of themselves doing it to Instagram and Facebook. They have warrants issued for their arrests, but made it back to Canada. Then you have the woman petting a Bison– a wild animal that weighs over a ton and can move at 40mph. Park warnings say to keep 100 yards from Bears and Wolves and 25 yards from Bison and Elk. This woman also made news by approaching an Elk too closely.

In Glacier National Park a young man just died jumping into a pool of water in Running Eagle Falls. A climber died in Zion in March and last year there was an awful accident in Keyhole Canyon.  The last time Craig and I visited Yellowstone in 2014, a young girl fell at The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone the day we were there. Last year, a park employee made news when a bear attacked him while he was out alone running or walking without bear spray. On Monday a man fell while taking pictures in Acadia National  Park.

Throughout history accidents have happened in our wild places. Some are avoidable and some are due to weather and nature. I for one am glad there are still so many wild places left in this country and I hope they stay that way. Some great books to read before your trips are Death in Yellowstone, Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite and Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon. There are also a few other parks with books like these. They will give you a new found respect for the parks and the people that have to try and rescue visitors that make often fatal mistakes.


If you are visiting any National Parks during the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, do some research before you go, read the information and warnings at the parks, respect the animals in their home and respect the fragile ecosystems.  If you plan to hike, carry water and bear spray or join a Ranger led hike. Too many are carving and spray painting rocks, leaving trash everywhere and not following warnings. Please do not ruin it for those of us that love and respect these places. Go and have an amazing time and be an ambassador for our parks!